A Model of Legal Systems as Evolutionary Networks: Normative Complexity and Self-Organization of Clusters of Rules
35 Pages Posted: 7 May 2010 Last revised: 13 Jul 2010
Date Written: May 6, 2010
The paper draws both on legal theory and network science to explain how legal systems are structured and evolve. The basic proposition is that legal systems have a structure identifiable through a model of them in terms of networks of rules, and that their evolution is a property of their network structure. The paper is based on a model of rules which relies on the tenets of the network theory to describe how legal change unfolds within the network structure of legal systems. Section 1 presents an outline of current literature on the application of network theory to legal systems. Section 2 describes the various types of rules and hierarchies within the network structure of legal systems. Section 3 then advances the view that the hierarchies of rules operate as chains of production which ultimately create rules regulating individual situations (“Rules of the Case”) and defines the concept of production links between rules represented as nodes of such networks. Section 4 describes multiple chains of production of rules and defines a network concept of normative complexity. Section 5 describes the structure of clusters of common law cases and provides a notion of clustering coefficients of these cases. Section 6 discusses the main network property of legal systems at the global and local level (the existence of nodes which operate as legal “connectors” and the self-organization of Rules of the Case), while section 7 shows that legal systems are evolutionary networks and discusses how their evolution is a network property. Finally section 8 concludes by discussing potential applications of network science in respect to the U.S. tax system.
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